CASTRIES, St. Lucia, April 29, CMC – Legislation to address domestic and gang violence, electronically track offenders, undertake tax reform, and set up a commerce court is to be introduced in Parliament’s new session, which the government has promised to be “exceedingly active.”
A detailed programme is expected to be announced when Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony presents the budget address to Parliament on May 8 as part of a new format for presenting both the government’s estimates of expenditure and the budget address.
Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy in her Throne Speech to Parliament, unveiling the government’s agenda for 2012-2013 parliamentary session, said the administration had begun to review the Police Act and planned a new Police Bill.
“It will be important to widen our consultations beyond the police and key stakeholders to include the public,” the governor general announced last week.
Lawmakers are also expected to consider an electronic monitoring bill to tag and track certain categories of individuals on bail and on parole. Anti-gang legislation is also to be introduced to target gangs as agents of crime and go after the proceeds of crime.
“If we are to have success fighting drug trafficking and corruption we must ensure that we are able to confiscate the proceeds of criminal activity,” Dame Pearlette said.
Promising “substantive amendments” to the Money Laundering Prevention Act, the governor general said the government acknowledged “the transnational nature” of money laundering and the “need to harmonise our efforts “consistent with international obligations”.
Dame Pearlette told St Lucians to expect a “robust legislative agenda” that addressed economic development and tax reform including the introduction of the Value-added Tax (VAT), employment, health, crime and security, education, tourism, agriculture, alternative sources of energy and a wide range of concerns relating to women, children, young people and seniors.
“Though the storm of economic uncertainty still lingers globally, my government is keeping calm and will approach these changes with care, diligence and certainty of purpose. We do not want to have a depressed nation.
“My government will not agree to any measure that would be too onerous, too burdensome or unreasonable for our people. This is not a time to look inward only. This is not a time to be insular. This is not a time to be inactive. It is undoubtedly a time to collaborate, to seek cohesion, to seek a common good, a common will, a common strength, and a common purpose,” she added.
Legislation aimed at advancing the business environment will also include bills for consumer protection, a trade export promotion agency and a law and policy governing competition in businessl. The governor said these bills, among other proposed legislation, will require “extensive discussions with stakeholders”.
St Lucia was anxious to improve the ease of doing business in the country and needed to retain its competitive edge in the Commonwealth Caribbean and among the developing nations of the world, she said.
“We must arrest the slippage that occurred in recent years,” she told the joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament.
The Kenny Anthony administration also plans to set up a Commercial Court with a “separate and distinct jurisdiction to handle exclusively all matters pertaining to business and commerce”, the governor general said, adding that legislation to establish the court is to be introduced after consultation with the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.
“As you must already know, these are troubling times for us and for the world,” said the governor general who represents Queen Elizabeth as the Windward Island’s head of state.
“The global economy is in turmoil. However, while we can take some comfort in our general circumstances — spared as we are from war and pestilence and famine — we cannot afford to slumber into oblivion.”